Indiana could be following Illinois’ lead in providing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.
That’s if Indiana State Sen. Frank Mrvan of Hammond has his way.
Mrvan says he hopes to appeal to the “humanitarian side” of Hoosier Republicans.
The veteran Democrat says he knows it will be tough to push through such a bill in conservative Indiana but he’s going to try anyway.
“I was encouraged and I think it was great that Illinois passed it. I’d like to think that there’s good people on both sides,” Mrvan said. “They (Republicans) are saying they want to reach out to Latinos and this is a humanitarian way to do it.”
Mrvan announced plans to introduce the bill at a meeting this week with Latino leaders in Indianapolis.
He estimates there are up to 300,000 illegal immigrants in Indiana.
“It’s just a common sense thing to me," Mrvan said. "The courts have said this is a federal problem, immigration. And, so far, nothing is happening. It’s in limbo. Meanwhile, these people are living in Indiana. It’s a safety factor in one way it gives them the ability to require them to get the license, liability insurance and take a test for licenses which they cannot use for anything else. It’s a human thing, a Christian thing to do.”
But both Houses of Indiana’s legislature are controlled by Republicans. And in recent years, the GOP has pushed through tough measures against illegal immigrants who work in the state and against employers who hire them. In 2011, the Indiana legislature adopted a law to deny illegal immigrants in-state tuition rates to attend college.
That’s why Northwest Indiana state lawmaker, Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, says it will be difficult to get Mrvan’s drivers license measure passed.
“It’s an issue for me, it’s an issue of public safety," said Reardon, who is the only Hispanic state lawmaker in Indiana. "We are all better off if we know who we have on the road. I think passage is a little wishful thinking but I think it’s important to start the discussion.”
Mrvan plans to introduce his bill by Friday’s deadline for new legislation.